The biggest disappointment

2013-08-12 00:00

WHILE the Sharks, Golden Lions and Western Province were left licking their wounds after the opening round of Currie Cup rugby, Griquas, their neighbours Free State and the Blue Bulls were celebrating unexpected weekend success.

The Sharks have only rarely been troubled by Griquas in Durban down the years, but this time were badly exposed as they lost 32-30 and failed to find the spark, organisation and ambition to provide the victory that their brand new coaching staff desperately needed.

The Free State Cheetahs held on to also gain an invaluable away win, edging the Golden Lions 30-29 at Ellis Park.

And the young Bulls, badly beaten in Cape Town in their final-round Super Rugby round robin game last month, this time stunned the Newlands crowd by fighting back tenaciously for a 24-24 draw against more experienced Western Province.

But, in terms of quality, the disappointment of the weekend were the Sharks, who failed miserably at home to a Griquas outfit who are awkward opponents at home but are poor travellers.

Coach Pote Human later described the win “as his best with Griquas”, praising his forwards for their mauling and scrummaging.

While Sharks captain Keegan Daniel battled to find form in Super Rugby, Human said his late withdrawal with a knee injury was a decisive blow for the home team.

“We knew that if we could disrupt the Sharks set piece, we were in with a chance of winning,” he added and his plan succeeded admirably.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson admitted that the set piece had failed. “We probably got outmuscled so it was a very disappointing day at the office and a disappointing start to our campaign.”

He said that Daniel’s injury, which had troubled him all week before he withdrew, would be assessed again today in the hope that he would be ready to face the Lions at King’s Park on Friday evening.

Macleod-Henderson said that young wing Sizo Maseko, who had crossed the line impressively after beating the Griqua defence — only to be called back by the TMO for an earlier Charl McLeod knock-on — had tweaked a hamstring.

The forward coach also praised the efforts of flank Brynard Stander and replacement flyhalf Fred Zeilinga. Number eight and captain Jacques Botes, who took over from Daniel, and fullback Odwa Ndungane, who provided some life on attack, were the Sharks’ most prominent players on the night.

Key to the Griquas’ victory was prop Lourens Adriaanse, who really ought to be in the Springbok squad as back-up to the overworked Jannie du Plessis on the tighthead.

The results in the three weekend games underlined how tight this year’s Currie Cup competition will be with Griquas winning by two points and the Free Staters by one with the points shared in the final game at Newlands.

While Griquas won in Durban with the last kick of the game, the Jantjies brothers, Elton at Ellis Park and Tony at Newlands, missed final-minute conversions that would have brought their teams (the Lions and Bulls) victories.

Free State dominated territory and possession in the first half at Ellis Park and comfortably led 27-19, but two tries in the final seven minutes brought the Lions within a conversion of winning.

WP’s lively backline appeared to be carrying them an emphatic win over the visiting Bulls and they led 21-6 in the second half before the Bulls started bullying and outmuscling their forwards. Two late Bulls tries, following two Jantjies penalties, levelled the scores (24-24) and brought WP within a conversion of defeat.


WP 24 (14) – Tries: Gio Aplon, Nizaam Carr, Patrick Howard. Conversions: Gary van Aswegen (3). Penalty: Gary van Aswegen. Blue Bulls 24 (6) – Tries: Francois Venter, Jean Cook. Conversion: Tony Jantjies. Penalties: Tony Jantjies (4).

Lions 29 (16) – Tries: Stokkies Hanekom, Ruan Dreyer, Willie Britz. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff. Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (4). Free State 30 (13) – Tries: Boom Prinsloo, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Elgar Watts, Riaan Smit. Penalties: Elgar Watts, Riaan Smit.

Sharks 30 (20) – Tries: Jacques Botes (2), Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Butch James (3). Penalties: Butch James (3). Griquas 32 (16) – Tries: Carel Greeff, Marnus Schoeman. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (2). Penalties: Nico Scheepers (6).

Standings after one round: Cheetahs 5; Griquas 4; WP 2; Bulls 2; Lions 1; Sharks 1.

Fixtures this weekend (home team first):

Friday - Sharks vs Lions, 5.05 pm; Bulls vs Griquas, 7.10 pm.

Saturday – WP vs Free State, 6 pm.

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